PIP Assessment; Traffic could cost your award

Steve, a fellow campaigner was asked to support a PIP claimant who had been instructed by the DWP to attend an assessment in Walsall despite living in Birmingham; Steve raised this with his MP, the subsequent correspondence regarding is below:

Subject: Capita Assessment Centres
 Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2015 08:23:02 +0100
 To: richard.burden.mp@parliament.uk

Mr Burden,

 I have been made aware that people are being asked to travel from Birmingham all the way to Walsall for their PIP medical assessment.
As you can fully appreciate some of these people have severe mobility issues as well as mental health issues and the distance they are being asked to travel will have a profound affect on the health.
 Could you please ask the minister for the disabled Rt Hon Justin Tomlinson to look into this further.

A rather interesting response was received

As part of the specification for the PIP assessment service, Assessment Providers must provide sufficient suitable accommodation for face-to-face consultations. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set clear requirements in terms of geography, travel, security and the claimant experience in relation to the sites used for PIP consultations.

The DWP requirement is that claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport (single journey) to a consultation. However, this limit is an absolute maximum and for the majority of claimants their journey will be less than this.

The appointment letter includes a map and directions to the Assessment Centre. Where the claimant has a medical condition that makes travel difficult the claimant should discuss this with the Assessment Provider.

The DWP have specified circumstances where a home consultation will be offered, in particular where the claimant is unable to travel to a consultation as a result of their health conditions or impairments. More specifically home consultations could be offered when the claimant provides confirmation from their health professional that indicates they are unable to travel on health grounds.

When a claimant travels to a face-to-face consultation they are able to claim travel expenses for themselves and a companion, carer or young children who would otherwise be left unattended.

Payments can be made for public transport fares, travel by private motor vehicle and other costs relating to the journey to and from the consultation such as parking. There are circumstances in which taxi fares can be reimbursed. This should be discussed with the Assessment Provider before attending the consultation. Payments relating to other costs of the journey such as parking, tolls or congestion charges can also be met. Travel expenses will be reimbursed within 14 days of the claim but cannot be paid in advance or at the Assessment Centre.

Should a claimant have any difficulties attending a consultation they should discuss it with the Assessment Provider as soon as possible. If a claimant contacts the Assessment Provider in advance to advise they are unable to attend their consultation, they will be offered a second appointment. This may enable them to arrange for a companion to assist with their travel arrangements.

Justin Tomlinson MP

Minister for Disabled People

This raises an issue I’d not considered before, the DWP state “claimants do not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport”  and as Steve says, and having lived in the area for over 8 years I concur, the problem with getting to Walsall from Birmingham is not the distance, which at around 13 mile should be within the DWP criteria. However the fact that  “getting to Walsall for an early morning appointment is “at a best a nightmare” even when the M6 is  “at its quietest”; thus as Steve points out “potentially you could lose your award because of traffic problem”.

Steve raised the case thinking of using a private car but by public transport it is an even worse problem – consider you need a use a bus to get to train station (or as close as possible) then the train journey itself and finally the bus (if there is one) to the assessment centre. This could easily take more than 90 minutes, therefore your PIP award could rely on traffic?

Just to add final insult to injury you arrive at Walsall Assessment Centre to find it is  inaccessible for disabled people!

 

Asking a Question, the Challenge open to us all

UPDATE – received replies from both  and @realbritainros and positive conversation – THANKS to both

I know I’m not alone in becoming more ill, month by month, particularly hard is the growing feeling of defeat; don’t get me wrong I’m still striving, hence this post but…the slowness of publications speaks volumes.

I still try to read the news every day, I still work to support people with their disability issues through DEAEP, but the feeling of proverbially banging my head increases; when reading the columns of those journalists I still value, they also seem to feel fighting the Tory onslaught is futile.

What brought this home is the Mirrors 16 of the scariest things we just learnt about benefits reform, it writes of Sanctions, Hunger, Homelessness, Health, IT (crap systems) Debt and touches on Tory Lies; yet it fails to mention the ever-lengthening list of people who have DIED through Benefit Reform?

This is despite the growing evidence of what we all know, these deaths ARE related to said government Policy – “Nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared fit for work ” according to DWP figures, “One in five benefit-related deaths involved sanctions,”also from DWP stats and when a Coroner finds “Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test“, the proof surely is conclusive.

Yet this loss of countless lives fails to makes the scariest things – Why?

Have we all become so inured to these deaths, the fact Benefit Reform Kills is no longer news; or is it more like the reasons purported for the Lords U-Turn last night? Are the press so afraid of backlash from the Tories, they report the data that affects the smallest group, especially when they are the scroungers?

I’m fully aware this is nothing new, but each time another journalist goes for the ‘softer’ option is another kick to my seriously depleted energy; as is every scrap on social media with us targeting each other – and the question why bother continuing, screams in my head.

This is not a request for neither do I need sympathy for my personal position; I’ve accepted its unlikely I’ll be here to witness the end of the fallout, which has to follow the demise of the cruellest and most brutal Government in the past 50 years. However, hopefully in 15 years or so, my grandchildren will be privileged to live as young adults in a world where, having a warm home with a full cupboard, won’t depend on them winning a lottery. This is my reason to keep on banging my head, to scrape up enough energy to occasionally write, or most importantly keep challenging.

Given this I’ve asked the article writer via  and @realbritainros who promoted this piece, WHY the 16 Scariest things don’t include DYING? Now Will You?

IDS Lies to Tory Party – Time for him to GO?

Warning – The post below contains swearing

Just what the Fuck has Iain Duncan Smith on fellow members of the Conservative Party? Thanks to John Pring at Disability News Service, we know this excuse for a man in charge of the DWP has LIED AGAIN.  This time not only to us the people and the media, but also to his own Party!

This round of Lies is regarding the ‘success’ of the Disability Confident Campaign which, claims” the government is working with employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.” John, via freedom of information requests has revealed, contrary to IDS claims at last years Tory Party Conference that more than 1,000 employers” had ‘signed up’ to the campaign, the reality is fewer than 400 actually joined, and only 68, are currently “active partners”!! The article is a must read, exposing as it does many other examples of the Minister being extremely selective (to say the least with the Truth).

Debbie Sayers and I are fully aware of the length of time IDS has being getting away with lies and exaggerations, and as regular readers know, we have been running our Truth Campaign for over two years. From our open letter to Esther McVey (remember her), to our petition to the Work & Pensions Committee which went to Parliament, and we are still going, with our current petition IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES.

It is the breadth of Lies issued by each of the various Ministers under IDS along with his own, and if you’re feeling masochistic and want to read more, search Lies on this blog alone, that makes me ask the question I began with – what the Fuck has IDS over the Tories?

I fail to understand why, they tolerate someone who alone, demonstrates every reason why this Government can’t be trusted; further I can not comprehend why the public aren’t screaming about it either?

I am fully aware of how difficult it is to keep on fighting when you’re suffering. I’ve not written, or done anything other than the bare minimum, for almost 2 months, due to very poor physical health and an exceptionally dangerously dark state of mind!

BUT, I can not and will not stop, pushing to have the Lies of all Ministers of the DWP Exposed – it is these Lies and Spin that drive the Policies which, according to coroner Mary Hassell, Triggered the suicide of Michael O’Sullivan, and most likely many many more.

If this bothers you as much as it does me, please let’s have a HUGE push to have #IDS Indicted.  No matter how futile it would be to ask Kathryn Hudson the Commissioner for Standards to investigate IDS; gaining a large number of signatures should afford us with enough media coverage to help actually get rid of IDS from the DWP; and that would make me feel better, how about you?

SIGN IDS – TIME TO STOP THE LIES, Share it and keep on sharing until the mainstream media can ignore it no longer.

#IDSIndicted  #TRUTHCampaign 

DWP again refuses to release data on disability benefits….

From The Independent –   Are the Media finally catching up?

The Department for Work and Pensions has again refused to release data about the impact of changes to the disability benefit system after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last week the DWP was forced to reveal how many people had died shortly after being found fit to work by disability tests.

Ministers and officials had resisted the demand for months and only accepted it after a warning from the Information Commissioner and a campaign that went all the way to Parliament.

But on Tuesday DWP officials refused another request for basic information about disability benefits using the same “Section 22” exemption they had tried to use before.

The Department had been asked under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how many Disability Living Allowance claimants had been made worse off after being moved onto the new Personal Independence Payment benefit.

The Department refused the request, made by a user of the WhatDoTheyKnow website, a tool which helps people scrutinise the Government’s record.

Some claimants have lost out from the move from DLA to PIP. The reason given for rejecting the request is the same as that given in the case of the death statistics – under section 22 of the Act, data which officials say is reserved for future publication can be blocked from release.

The Department also previously stalled on responding to the request based on the fact that the person who made it had initially used a pseudonym.

The civil servant who answered the reply ultimately said that thought there was a public interest in the data being released, they should be allowed to publish it “in a manner of form and at a time of their own choosing”.

“I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date,” the Department said in its reply.

“This exemption requires the public interest for and against disclosure to be weighed in the balance. There is a public interest in information being released as soon as possible. However, I am satisfied that there is a strong public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing.”

Disabled people are being transitioned by the Government from the Disability Living Allowance benefit to its placement, the Personal Independence Payment. Some people lose out from this change because of the new way in which the PIP is calculated.

One person affected by a payment cut, Jane, wrote in her blog about the difficulties the changes had made for her and criticised the DWP’s lack of transparency.

“I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage,” she said.

“Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate when these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?”

In the case of the benefit death figures, the Information Commissioner said the Government had no good reason to withhold the stats under Section 22

Mr Duncan Smith at one point caused confusion when he told Labour MP Debbie Abraham in Parliament that the stats did not exist.

“She knows very well that the department does not collate numbers on people in that circumstance,” he told her in Parliament.

The block comes after ministers announced a crackdown on the Freedom of Information Act, which Justice Secretary Michael Gove needed to be “revisited”.

Civil servants have long complained that disclosing information can be time-consuming and costly, and that ministers and officials should be allowed to discuss things in secret without the public knowing.

Campaigns say any attempt to water down the act would make it more difficult to hold the Government to account when things go wrong.

More disability benefit data refused for release by DWP.

Back in January I wrote about how my transition from DLA to PIP lost me £140 per month, and in March I posted about the saga I had with my Mandatory Reconsideration; both of these pieces demonstrated precisely what this loss meant to me in real terms. Since then I have found myself so behind with bill payments, I now am past ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and am at the bailiffs knocking on the door stage.

The reason for raising this is, today a FOI request asking  ‘The percentage of current DLA claimants, who, on conversion to PiP, were reduced in their claims’…was answered by the DWP. Unsurprisingly their response was “I can confirm that the Department holds the information you are seeking. However, Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act exempts this information from disclosure. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date.

Once again the DWP hide behind Section 22, but fail to indicate WHEN these figures are to be produced; could this be because the data once revealed, will show another proven case of how the Welfare Reform Act is persistently failing disabled people?

The recent outcome of the 18 month long fight by Mike Sivier confirmed that “10,000 people lost their lives” after being determined they were well enough to be placed in the Work Related Activity Group! Will this latest refusal for information, demonstrate yet a further number of disabled people, who although surviving, being adversely affected by the decisions of civil servants

We were warned back in 2012, by the then Minister for disabled people Esther McVey that, “more than 300,000 disabled people will have their benefits cut” under the transition from DLA to PIP, are the DWP refusing to release this data, because this figure is already much higher?

Government #Disablism Discrimination in Action

This week a woman not known for her timidity, admitted how a non-disabled man had used his presence and the environment to disempower her; I’m referring to Dame Anne Begg and the she interview gave to the BBC. In the Daily Record Dame Anne is quoted as saying “Iain Duncan Smith took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair…Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.’” Dame Anne also was recorded as having explaining how “she would normally reproach people who invaded her personal space but she let him off“.

This is an excellent example of how competent, intelligent, and independent disabled people not only experience prejudice – as people either knowingly or subconsciously, use their bodies, words or actions to oppress us; but how this actively exasperates and diminishes us.

It is no coincidence I use this example with IDS being the perpetrator, as it is again his department, the DWP, I am discussing today. In November last year I introduced you to Burt, who with our support at DEAEP was transferred from WRAG to the support group last December; since then Burt has received up to three letters a month plus texts reminding him of his “Back to Work” appointments! Each month Burt has responded to each letter with a phone call saying “but I’m in the Support Group”, he has received an apology and a promise to rectify this from each call; yet it has continued.

Burt is a former career soldier who fought in wars all over the world, until being retired out with a crushed spine and severe PTSD, amongst other conditions, all contracted during his service.  He isn’t a naturally timid man, he loved his Army life and willingly gave everything to “Queen & Country”, as his service record and the plethora of photographs and awards proudly displayed in his lounge demonstrate; and yet the persistent harassment he has experienced from the DWP in the past 2 years has left him joyless, feeling without purpose and literally unable to complain.

As Dame Anne alluded to regarding IDS, his actions which amount to bullying in my opinion, makes it difficult if not impossible to positively challenge the perpetrator(s); and this is the situation Burt is in. Personally I can totally relate to this, and would suggest many readers and other claimants can also. It is these dismissive attitudes and continuous intimidation by the DWP that creates the ‘Brown envelope Syndrome’, so well recognised by those of us unfortunate enough to claim benefits; it is also this oppression, and misuse of positions of power, that has contributed to the deaths of many us.

How much worse this is going to get following the closure of ILF and a budget, which I believe initiates the removal of WRAG? Being forced to deal with increasing poverty is physically and psychologically damaging enough without having to deal with this prejudice and discrimination from the DWP.

I find this particularly ironic that jobseekers (presumably including those who would have been placed in WRAG)  are being mandated to participate in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which claims to Stop negative thought cycles; I can’t help but think IDS, his ministers and the staff at DWP would benefit far more from CBT than claimants?

#DWP no longer produce data for Hardship Fund – WHY?

In this month we’ve finally seen National (and even International) press, about the DWP’s refusal to publish the numbers of people dying after their benefits had been stopped. This is fully justified and it is with no small thanks to fellow blogger Vox Political for his persistence, that at the time of writing 80,572 people are demanding the DWP release these numbers.

Today in daily updates from whatdotheyknow,  another DWP response caught my eye, a FOI request enquiring about a statement from #Cameron re the Hardship Fund for claimant facing financial difficulties. The request asks several questions including what the Hardship fund is, the criteria for application and the number of applicants, both successful and rejected. The DWP’s response did explain what and how but… regarding the numbers, the response intrigued me:

Data on JSA awards was last published in September 2012 which stated “the number of hardship awards made between April 2011 and March 2012 was about 64,000; it continued with “A commitment was made to publish updated figures in May 2015 during the Work and Pensions Select Committee review of sanctions in February 2015.

Now I may be a little cynical here but if these figures were to be published last month – Where Are They? I’ve been unable to find them, and also tried to think of reasons for a delay, but in the end could only arrive at the conclusion the DWP are hoping the data update announcement will by forgotten.

Therefore as I’d like to know just how many claims and refusals have been made for Hardship Funds since March 2012, mostly because I think its highly likely there will be substantial growth in these claims? And also because this promise to publish data in the future, has been used numerous times before, including queries regarding the number of Benefit related deaths; I’ve submitted my own FOI

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In your recent response to FOI – Hardship Fund for claimant facing financial difficulties? made 28 April 2015 by JCG ; on May 29 2015 you stated “A commitment was made to publish updated figures in May 2015 during the Work and Pensions Select Committee review of sanctions in February 2015.”

Therefore, my request is where and when are these numbers to be published?

Yours faithfully,

JayneL

I’ll keep you posted.

#Together WE Fight for Our Survival

The Desperate Fight Within Disabled Campaigning

This is my first post in a few months, there’s been several reasons for this including an horrendous bout of depression, an operation and masses of work for DEAEP, our new course starts next week. There also been one issue that has taken over what little energy I’ve had left after this; a month ago I was asked if I’d be interested in working on the setting up of a unifying group for disabled people to fight the Government.

Anyone that’s read my blogs is well aware I’m committed to collective working and collaboration, most of my posts end with some form of plea for Unity or Togetherness, so of course I said yes. To my horror, in this very short period of time several of those willing to do the backroom work have been bullied and verbally assaulted by the same people who purport to believe in campaigning and challenging for our rights. So much so, that a number of the individuals willing to use their spare energy have said they can no longer continue; I simply do not understand this!

What the Fuck is going on, when those of us Fighting for our lives under this Tory regime of Austerity and Cuts, are attacked by our peers; isn’t it enough that people are dying through the bullying of JobCentre & other DWP staff, without resorting to this behaviour ourselves?

When #homelessness is soaring and people are being evicted from their homes due to the costs of the #BedroomTax, or the #BenefitCap; when the loss of ESA or PIP, through flawed and biased ‘assessments is causing people to choose to stay warm or fed; what will happen to those on #ILF that lose their Care packages in 3 weeks? Isn’t all of this this enough to make people angry enough to challenge the Government and to work WITH their peers and not attack them?

I totally agree that different opinions are essential for any project to get off the ground, and this means different beliefs being aired and people feeling frustrated their thoughts aren’t being taken into account; I’m aware not everyone feels a unifying organisation is the way forward and that’s fine. I recognise the pressure we are ALL under and realise that sometimes we say things we might not mean, I also acknowledge that on social media, the words we write can often come across as something different to what we actually meant but…this is NOT what happened here; this was selective Bullying. People were reading derogatory comments and joining in, it was made Personal, through targeted attacks on individuals; all who have been involving in online campaigning for the past 4 years at least. If this behaviour had happened on the street and from a group of non-disabled people, many of us would be, (rightly in my book) shouting about Hate Crime; this is how serious I take what has has occurred.

The outcome is not only, have the abused individuals felt the need to leave the unifying group, several have left the world of disability activism completely; and what a loss! All that knowledge and experience held by these individuals, lost from campaigning and no longer available to work on the real Fight.

To close, I want to state some of us are continuing to work on developing a unifying project for disabled people, a group that can challenge the Government with authority; but it is with great sadness that not only will the work be much more difficult without the lost expertise, but that we’ve lost true campaigners to bullying from within.

I hope that those involved in these abusive attacks realise the damage they’ve caused, not only to the individual victims of their abuse but to the disabled movement; remember when our enemies see this behaviour it only serves to further their cause.

ONLY TOGETHER CAN WE FIGHT FOR OUR SURVIVAL

What NOW? #TogetherWeCan

There’s seemingly no end of blogs about WHY the Tories ended up back in Government; there also many many posts on social media discussing how disabled people are going to survive when the next round of Welfare Cuts come in; here’s my view…

At the time of writing we don’t yet know Who will be the Work & Pensions Minister, we do now that #McVey, in maybe the only good news of the election, being deselected won’t be there, and Mark Harper has gone as the Minister for disabled people but as for the others, we’ll have to wait?  What I believe is no matter WHO fills their seats (and that of #IDS of course) things will not get any better.

I was SICK of the whole Carbuncle of Welfare Reform before May 7 – now we await with trepidation the announcements of the next round of proposed £12Million of Cuts; we’ve already read of the possible taxation of disabled benefits and making it harder for sick people to claim state aid by introducing “stricter” fit-for-work tests and/or tighter limits on eligibility, what’s next remains as yet unknown.

What I am convinced of is it is time now for ALL of us affected by the discriminatory actions of the Tories, to come together and Fight Back in Unity; we must ensure that whatever campaigns, petitions, demos etc work collectively to complement each other in the Battle for Survival under a Tory Government.

I believe it is time to TALK, for disabled organisations, social media groups, local projects etc, to communicate and work collaboratively; I’m not suggesting we all have to use the same approaches or methods but…we DO have to ensure we support the campaigns of others. Imagine if every Demo was coordinated across the UK – just as we did with ATOS? We KNOW this works and this is why I’m pleading with ALL groups leaders to do this; think -TOGETHER  a petition with ELEVEN MILLION signatures could Not be Ignored?

Then consider what would happen if WE worked with all other discriminated Groups – We’d be Unstoppable

What do you think??        #TogetherWeCan

The PROVEN LIES of IDS – NOW HE MUST ANSWER

Joe Halewood writing as @SpeyeJoe has reprinted a letter from the Tory Chief Whip informing IDS his #BenefitCap will actually cost money!

This is yet more evidence of IDS electing to continue his campaign to punish the poorest of us for the complete cock up by the banks and previous Governments, despite it costing the public purse?

Further nickd at http://ilegal.org.uk/ has spent this week posting more evidence that IDS has been Lying to both his own party and the public throughout the Coalitions Term in Government; this covers Lies about Incapacity benefit, ESA and the Work programme.

Isn’t is time for IDS to be held responsible for these Lies, the same lies that have seen hundreds of chronically sick, disabled and workless people Die under his watch;  irrespective of Who wins on May7, IDS will still remain responsible for the man who oversaw the deaths of so many

how-much-longer-will-the-dwp-get-away-with-this1

These are the reasons for the long running #TRUTH Campaign and whilst Debbie and I THANK all 6000+ signatories so far we need more; If YOU believe IDS deserve to answer for these LIES & DESTRUCTION please SIGN & SHARE  https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/investigate-ids-for-lies.

Would be good to be able to take along a batch of 100,000s of names to the next Government showing

WE WILL NOT TOLERATE ANOTHER 5 YEARS OF SLAUGHTER

End Austerity Demo June 20

#TRUTHCampaign #IndictIDS #ImpeachDWP